Eastbourne international Folkdance
Festival, Langley School and St Catherine's College (formerly Bishops Bell School)
Eastbourne. Organised until 2017 by the proxy parents Robin
James and Maureen and Graham Knight.
Notice displayed in all toilets at
Eastbourne International Dance Festival 2015/16, concerning dancers being 'too familiar'
I have attended EIFF for probably 6 years
(need to check).
In that time there have been (to my recollection) no complaints made to me by dancing
partners except a few light-hearted 'slow down' comments when I was swinging them. Indeed,
quite a few women in 2016 asked me for dances (more
The only criticism of my dancing I would accept, both in respect of Eastbourne and other
festivals (and in respect of local clubs also) is that I generally only ask my 'favourite'
partners for dances. Some other women (so I am told) then feel left out and can become
resentful - one or two even tell me so. But I can't be in three places at once and I
prefer dancing primarily with the most competent, playful and/or attractive women - that
is surely permitted?
In 2014 (check date) I had a badly sprained right arm at EIFF and was unable to use
this to support women whilst swinging them around - thus I had to use both arms around
their waists. The vast majority accepted this with no issues - a few were less
understanding and decidedly grumpy.
A letter in STS summarised the event. (add link). This led to a reaction by 'the
committee' and the following notice appeared in all the toilets (of all places!) across
all EIFF venues in 2015/16. I simply continued to dance much as I always have done, albeit
slowing down as the years passed!
||Several of my dance partners
in 2015 thought this notice was some sort of wind-up - they couldn't imagine what the fuss
To my recollection I have never had a woman tell me I had been 'too familiar'
with them at Eastbourne and certainly no-one has ever walked off the dance floor - at this
or or any other festival. I have danced probably 30,000 times
and with hundreds of different women.
In the years since this notice appeared (2015/16):
I have had no women complain to me, let alone walk off the dance floor
Graham Knight and similar people have tried soliciting women asking whether they had
any complaints about me. In other words looking for trouble when none had been reported.
I have never been approached by any of the stewards or directors and told there was a
complaint against me.
Five months were allowed to elapse from the date of the 2016 festival before I received
the 'notice' below - and with no opportunity for any discussion allowed.
So where are all these complaints? Where are the witness statements?
In any case, in the modern age it is surely not for people
like Graham Knight or organisers such as Robin James or Maureen Knight to act as surrogate
parents to women in their sixties and seventies - they can surely look after themselves!
Do they not have tongues in their heads?
In rare cases, where one or two women don't enjoy swinging rapidly, I simply slow down.
All they have to do is ask! In the case of Irish Set workshops in 2016 they simply found
another partner. Much Irish Set is supposed to be fast and furious and newcomers are often
'thrown in at the deep end' (examples here).
||The missive received from
Maureen Knight late in September 2016.
It is to be noted that at the 2016 festival I had made a point to record all comments made
to me by dancers - because I had been told the committee were 'out to get me'.
The only comments worth recording are those here - from women
who particularly asked me for dances because they enjoyed my enthusiasm, maybe as an
antidote to the general staid correctness of so many other men.
No attempt was made ever
to discuss any purported complaints with me - an important point because I had been given
no opportunity to put my side of any case before the 'committee' decision.
This is in stark contrast to the more considered (and arguably fairer) complaint policies
of (for example) Cambridge. (add links)
Emails to and from Maureen Knight are given below. Note particularly the failure to
respond to requests to provide information, including the identity of the rest of 'the
committee'. Maureen is at the front of the photo, Robin James at the extreme right.
Emails received from dance partners at
Eastbourne - most of my favourite partners are women I just meet at festivals - I don't
know many of their surnames or which clubs they dance at regularly - so I have no means to
contact them to ask for further emails - save contacting every dance club in the country!
Also emails to and from EIFF. Before publishing my dance diary for
2016 I emailed Maureen Knight to confirm that the note received in September was
Steve, Steve, Steve, what is the world coming to that you feel you can't come to
Eastbourne, what a shame.
I don't know all the ins and outs but on the bright side, you have always said it is
a long way for you to travel. Just as it is for me to get to Sidmouth.
And you have always said how poor Eastbourne is compared with Chippenham. So why worry?
I can't imagine you calling, try and video it for me!!
I've hardly been out and about lately, been having my kitchen completely re-done - a lot
of work and disruption, but worth it of course.
Good to hear from you.
(From a dancer I only ever meet at Eastbourne)
I think its disgusting that you are not being sold a ticket for Eastbourne.
(part of email from folk dance caller in the Midlands)
Part of my reply:
Eastbourne is a vendetta, the pretext will be a few dotty women complaining about my
swinging (etc). Many others ask me to dance - they enjoy the energy and flirting I
bring to it.
I'm writing it up.
Unlikely to do Lichfield again.
7 January 2017
Please confirm that you sent me a note dated 23 September 2016 re: attendance at
EIFF stating you didn't wish me to apply in 2017.
I'm publishing reviews and other material shortly. I wouldn't wish to misrepresent you on
the basis of a possibly spoof document.
Some of my principal EIFF dancing partners consider your stance (on the
EIFF tickets page) to be absurd.
Others - for whom I have no email addresses at present - will have to read
the published summaries.
I was taking notes in 2016. As for your attempt at justifying semi-legalised thuggish
behaviour I assume you meant to say antisocial, rather than unsociable behaviour?
Quite a few people regard you as variously difficult and priggish (and not only at
Halsway club) , but these are not hanging offences, merely characteristics that have
to be tolerated.
Thank you for the confirmation. I may wish to apply this year (and before 12 Jan deadline)
- please send me the form asap. If I am too late to book my usual accommodation I assume
all motorhome spaces are now taken?
Nice to see you looking so well at Graham Wood's birthday dance.
12 January 2017.
Good morning Steve
The letter dated 23 September 2016 requests "that you do not apply to attend
any future folk dance festivals at Eastbourne" and was sent from the Directors of
22 February 2017
Maureen Knight / EIFF.
Thank you for the confirmation.
I have not seen or been informed of any complaints of any significance. Why wait 5 months
before telling me that there was any purported problems in 2016 and why not seek any
discussion or conflict resolution at the time or shortly thereafter?
Indeed, as is now documented, 2016 was characterised by more women at EIFF
asking me for dances - and these in addition to those in my usual small 'select
group' of partners. I am hereby applying for a ticket : you can refuse a ticket
as you decide, I can complain it's a hate crime and we'll take it from there.
What actual evidence do you have apart from statements from people (including members of
your committee) who hate or dislike me for various reasons, many of these linked to STS articles? You need to actually refuse my application to
trigger any formal complaint, and for me to involve the schools
Can you confirm the full names of all the directors who were party to your note of 23
The first tranche of material centred on Eastbourne is on the April diary link from this
'highlights' webpage: http://seered.co.uk/folkdiaryhigh.htm
A first draft of legal issues is here - there is a long way to go before these are
likely to be clarified. http://seered.co.uk/folkclub15.htm
Can we move this forward now please? Might see you this evening anyway.
No reply received.
25 February 2017.
Please send me the application form for EIFF 2017. Thank you.
No reply received.
1 March 2017 (email to a couple of dance partners).
It's that time of year again for booking folk festivals.
You probably know that EIFF have told me not to apply for a ticket (i.e. they will refuse
to sell me one) - all part of a long running dispute - Robin has disliked me for years for
a start and it is all tied into Monty Crook banning me from his Bridport ceilidhs owing to
a dispute at another club - but done on a pretext.
I've decided to write it all up.
I would like to ask you - if you are going to EIFF this year and if so (and if I
eventually get to go) would you still be brave enough to agree to dance with me?
Eastbourne has always been difficult to get partners unless I get regular dances with my
'favourites' of which you are one of course. Without that certainty, there is little point
in going - it would be as bad as Lichfield (and I'm unlikely to go there again).
It's a constant struggle to find partners I actually want to dance with. I'm not
bothering with Towersey again either - wonderful atmosphere in good weather but the
ceilidh dance music is so loud these days it's become almost painful.
The links are many and varied but start here: http://seered.co.uk/folkdiaryhigh.htm and
some initial legal stuff: http://seered.co.uk/folkclub15.htm
1 March 2017.
No, not going to Sidmouth (haven't been for a few years now), but I will be at Eastbourne
and Chippenham this year.
Yes, happy to dance with you if you get into Eastbourne!
Happy to dance if you get there - I'll miss your shirts!
April 2017. [some personal details removed]
Thank you for your email, sorry for the delay in replying. ........ I looked at
your links, and I am sure no-one would have complained about your dancing. The
complaints were more probably about how you approach people to ask them to dance,
especially those who don't know you?........
Look after yourself.
part of reply to above:
.....I'll accept I can be persistent on occasions asking you for dances - but you do know
me quite well. All too often there is no-one who I really want to dance with apart from
either you or another 'favourite'. I might be persistent on occasions with these women
(none of whom mind!) but I am quite the opposite with people I don't know well - quite shy
in fact. So I can't really agree with your analysis. The complaints are more than likely
from 'dotty old dears' or indeed merely from festival organisers who simply dislike me.
Some of these people arguably shouldn't be in a dance hall at all, except maybe at a
I do get comments locally that I just beckon to women and expect them to leap up to dance
with me but that is hardly grounds for anything more than a jocular complaint. Indeed, it
has turned into quite a joke locally - some women insisting I ask them almost on bended
knee before they will agree to say 'yes'. It is all part of the fun of dancing if you can
succeed in sidelining the dour and dismal people.
Most of the hatred is likely based around my many letters and articles in STS over the
years - payback time!
Hello Steve. [altered slightly and redacted to stymie victimisation by the EIFF committee]
I've just copied your link onto a site that some of the XXXX dancers use to share
information. I told XXXX, XXXX and XXXX about you being banished from EIFF. I'm sorry I
didn't do anything sooner. Anyway, they were all puzzled as to why you were being denied
entry to EIFF and thought it totally unreasonable. All sorry that you would not be there.
XXXX (small very prim-looking older dancer who mostly dances with a tall man called XXXX)
overheard and joined in the conversation, and she too agreed. I've not heard anyone who
thinks this is right.
I also told XXXX [internationally known dance caller] who happened to be dancing at XXXX.
Did you know he reads your website from time to time? I'll copy him all your links anyway.
I hope you've got some Irish or American Square to go to this weekend!
I cannot as yet contact some of my other favourite' partners owing to not knowing their
email addresses - letters sent to the schools and further emails will be added below.
A list of all 'proxy parents' and associated people will be added here.
Folk diary page for April 2016 (EIFF month)
Legal aspects page